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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26, 2020
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Snohomish Health District previously announced reports of a large party where one guest later tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, staff have determined that not all of the estimated 40-70 attendees can be identified or contacted.
The Health District is requesting that all individuals promptly seek COVID-19 testing if they attended a large house party in Stanwood on Friday, June 19. They can either register for one of the community-based testing locations, or by contacting their healthcare provider or another testing facility. All attendees should remain quarantined at home through July 4, unless they develop symptoms and/or test positive. If they test positive, they will be provided additional instructions by the Health District. If there are concerns or questions, people are encouraged to review this guidance for exposed people and contact their healthcare provider.
The average incubation period for COVID-19—or the amount of time from exposure to first development of symptoms, if any—is 4 to 6 days. However, it can be as long as 14 days. This means that attendees at that party need to be tested quickly to prevent further spread to others. The Health District is also encouraging people who attended large graduation parties or Father’s Day celebrations to get tested as a precaution.
There are a growing number of reports of large gatherings being held in Snohomish County. Given this, the Health District now recommends that individuals who attend any large gathering remain at home for 14 days following the event. It is especially important to follow this recommendation when attending an event where not all attendees can be identified or where social distancing was not maintained.
As a reminder, quarantine means staying at home for the full 14-day duration of time following possible exposure. This means not going to work, visiting with others or having guests over, or running errands. People should not leave their home except for a medical appointment or to get tested.
“Even though some larger events like weddings or funerals are permissible in Phase 2, we encourage caution by event planners and guests. Smaller is still much safer,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Health District. “Also ask yourself if it’s an important enough event for you to stay home afterward for two weeks? If not, it might be better to sit that one out. If so, still wear that face cover, keep your distance and practice good hand hygiene.”
Not only are large gatherings at a higher risk of becoming a super-spreader event, but they also present significant challenges to public health staff in being able to quickly identify and contact those potentially exposed. Both of these impact target metrics needed for future phases in the Safe Start plan, and potentially jeopardize remaining the current phase or having to go backward to Phase 1.
The bottom line is that the Governor’s Safe Start Plan for Phase 2—where we currently are--prohibits gatherings with more than five people who are not in your household. There are some exceptions, which include faith-based services, weddings and funerals. People should familiarize themselves with what is allowed and not on the Safe Start website.
The Health District endorses that prohibition on gatherings. It is there for good reason. Please do not plan or attend gatherings larger than the permitted size. Large gatherings promote transmission and unnecessarily consume public health disease control resources needed to progress forward.
The schedule for the week of June 29 is as follows:
Testing will continue to be available to those who are:
Registration is now open at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
The Snohomish Health District supports and endorses Secretary of Health John Wiesman’s face covering order effective June 26, 2020. This has been a topic that many residents and businesses have been advocating for, so the Health District is anticipating overall compliance with the order here in Snohomish County. To help answer questions, a new blog has been published here: www.snohd.org/Blog.aspx?IID=39
The Health District has also been hearing from healthcare providers that many patients are requesting medical waivers. First, the order does not require written validation for an exemption. Second, medical reasons to not wear a face covering are relatively uncommon. This should not be pursued as a loophole to wearing a face covering in public. If individuals do have concerns about their medical conditions and ability to wear a face covering, the best strategy is to avoid settings where a face covering would be required.
In summary, if people see someone without a face covering, avoid engaging or attempting to correct them about it. Assume positive intent on their part and that they meet criteria that exclude them from wearing a face covering. If there are concerns about a business or organization not supporting the Secretary’s order or about any other Safe Start non-compliance, people can submit a complaint online here: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/how-you-can-help/covid-19-business-and-worker-inquiries.
The Health District is still providing updates Monday-Friday of total confirmed, total probable, and a breakdown of cases by city. A weekly report is now being posted on Fridays, providing a more detailed analysis of cases in Snohomish County from the prior week. The report for the week ending June 20 has now been posted, as well as the updated COVID activity snapshot that provides metrics aligned with the Phase 2 approval.
There have been some questions received on why these updates do not match information on the Phases and Risk Assessment Dashboard provided by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). The differences between agencies in data are a result of a variety of factors, including:
Overall, these are negligible, technical differences that do not affect the information and general impression provided by the data.
Lastly, the Health District reported a large spike in cases reported last Friday through Monday. Staff have reviewed the 128 cases from Friday, June 19 through Monday, June 22. Here are some of the highlights:
Was case ever hospitalized?
Underlying health conditions
Type of exposure
Long-term Care Facility Associated
The community is encouraged to help prevent the spread of illness and to support the response to this outbreak by staying informed and sharing reliable information. This is a very fluid situation and information will be updated at www.snohd.org/ncov2019 and the Health District’s social media channels.